The church is not the best place for learning to follow Jesus. Not to threaten my own job security, but it is true. According to Scripture, the place that best suits having the Word of God impressed on our hearts is the home.
Have you ever considered looking at your home as a training ground for righteousness? The primary responsibility for training up those whom God has placed under our care does not lie in the hands of the church. It lies in our hands as leaders in our homes. In every wedding I perform, I remind each spouse that both are called to be leaders and servants. Our homes are the best place to train for righteous living.
As I thought about my own home, I collaborated with some friends from church to make a list of 10 things we say to our children that we would never say to each other as adults. This is just for fun as an aside. Please continue reading after this list for the really good stuff!
10 THINGS WE SAY TO OUR CHILDREN THAT WE WOULD NEVER SAY TO EACH OTHER AS ADULTS
- Make sure and brush your teeth today.
- Your shoes are on the wrong feet again.
- Have you bathed recently?
- Don’t put that in your mouth!
- Did you wipe yourself?
- Please eat your food! (We have a problem not eating…)
- Stay in your bed! (We have trouble getting out of bed…)
- I’m tired of stepping on your LEGOs buried in the carpet!
- Why are you dancing like that? Do you need to go to the bathroom?
- BECAUSE I SAID SO!
The most useful passage of Scripture I have found for describing what it means to live out God’s message everywhere and at all times is the Shema. The Shema is the passage of Scripture that every Jewish adult and child, both then and now, knows best of all. The Shema was and is like a pledge of allegiance in the Jewish faith – a pledge that God is the One True God. Even today Orthodox Jews say the Shema upon rising in the morning, before meals, in worship, and before going to bed at night. The Shema is the first prayer a Jewish child is taught to pray, and the last words a Jew hopes to say before death. To a Jewish believer, the Shema is like John 3:16 to a Christian.
The Shema comes from Deuteronomy 6 as Moses is preparing the younger generation of Israelites to enter the Promised Land – a land Moses would not enter himself. The heart of this passage is verse 4: Shema Yis’rael, Adonai Eloheinu, Adonai Echad – “Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is One.”
But the Shema goes on. The Lord speaks through Moses and commands the people even more specifically that their homes were to be a training ground for righteousness. Not only that, they were also to keep the words of God on their lips wherever they went. Moses says clearly: MAINTAIN YOUR FAITH IN YOUR HOME. Don’t just take your family to the tabernacle like it is a part of some spiritual diet. Make your faith a part of your home, in every part of your home.
Deuteronomy 6:4-8: Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 5 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. 6 These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. 7 Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 8 Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 9 Write them on the door frames of your houses and on your gates.
Impress them on your children – drive these commands into the ears, minds, and hearts of your children.
Talk about them in your homes, when you sit together at home.
If the truth remains in the parents’ hearts, coming out of their mouths and in their lives, then their children are more likely catch it. They will catch God’s truth through their eyes, ears, intellects, hearts, and even their hands. In this sense, God’s Word is not just be a book to read in the tabernacle. It is a part of our lives all the time.
I challenge you to think of your home as a sanctuary – as a training ground for righteousness. And in order to help us think that way, I have put together 8 simple ways to help shape our homes into a training ground for righteousness.
8 SIMPLE WAYS TO SHAPE OUR HOMES INTO A TRAINING GROUND FOR RIGHTEOUSNESS
1. Develop a biblical theology that is consistent in your home. Memorize Scripture and learn to articulate what you believe. Keep your training consistent with the Scriptures and talk about them often.
Deuteronomy 6:4-5: Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.
2. Develop a biblical worldview through which you see life and culture. A worldview is like a pair of glasses through which a person sees the world and everything in it. Our worldview largely determines the beliefs we form about God, existence, truth, right and wrong, beauty, and values of people and things. Make sure the lens through which you interpret the world and culture is rooted in Scripture.
Romans 12:2: Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
3. Give your home completely to God as His territory. We prayer-walk on the mission field and we pray throughout our churches. Walk around your home and claim every area for the Lord. Give each space completely to Him.
Joshua 24:15: “But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve… But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”
4. Set goals for your household and its spiritual direction. We set goals in nearly every area of life. We set career goals, financial goals, and fitness goals. Goals are an absolute necessity for achieving success. Why not set goals for the development of righteousness in our homes? (And I would say one of those goals should be: HAVE FUN!)
1 Timothy 5:8: Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.
5. Live and speak with an attitude of thankfulness to God in your home – “Enjoy the gifts without forgetting the Giver.” (Baucham, Jr.) Among all the words that are exchanged in our homes, many are not thankful or kind. Model for your family what it looks like to be thankful to God for all of His blessings we enjoy. Don’t feel guilty for enjoying life, each other, activities, and things. Just remember that every good gift comes from above.
1 Timothy 4:4-5: For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer.
6. Teach the Word of God in your home in every way possible. Speak the name of Jesus and speak Scripture often in your home. Look for opportunities to have gospel-centered conversations. Sometimes the most fertile ground for talking about the things of the Lord is tilled from everyday conversations.
1 Timothy 3:16-17: All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
7. Live the Word of God in your home in every way possible. Live differently and be willing to stand out. Teach your family the difference between the “gods” of success in our culture and the One True God.
James 1:22: Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.
8. Keep each person in your home connected to the Christian community. Even though our homes are the best training ground for righteousness, that does not take away from the value of living in Christian community and going to church. I love watching the way my family grows in friendships and relationships with people in our church. It is such a blessing to see your family loved on by godly people. These relationships are supplemental, however. The primary responsibility for training in righteousness lies squarely on our shoulders as leaders and servants in our homes.
Hebrews 10:24-25: And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.
***For Further Reading: Martin Luther and his wife Katie – Table Talk and the Christian Family Dinner Table
***Book Recommendation: Family Driven Faith by Voddie Baucham, Jr.